WMAQ - NBC 5 [Chicago IL]
May 24, 2021
Fr. Michael Pfleger has been the pastor of St. Sabina Church in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood since 1981, most widely known for his activism against violence in the city.
Father Michael Pfleger will be reinstated as senior pastor at St. Sabina Church after an investigation by the Chicago Archdiocese review board found that allegations of abuse against Pfleger were unfounded, Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote Monday in a letter to parishioners.
“In accordance with our policies for the protection of children and youth, the archdiocese Independent Review Board assisted by our Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review and outside investigators conducted a thorough review of the allegations,” Cupich said in the letter. “The Review Board has concluded that there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”
Pfleger will be reinstated the weekend of June 5-6, Cupich said.
“I have asked Father Pfleger to take the next two weeks to prepare himself spiritually and emotionally to return, realizing that these months have taken a great toll on him,” Cupich wrote. “He has agreed to do so.”
Cupich thanked the St. Sabina community for their “patience and prayers during the absence of your senior pastor.”
In January, the Archdiocese of Chicago asked Pfleger to step aside from his ministry after receiving an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. The accuser’s sibling came forward later that month with a second allegation of abuse.
Pfleger’s counsel forcefully responded, calling the allegations “false” and accusing the brothers of trying to “shake down” Pfleger in the case.
In February, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services wrote in a letter to Pfleger that the agency had determined that after an evaluation, a report of “suspected child abuse or neglect” was “unfounded.”
In March a third man accused Pfleger of sexual assault beginning more than 40 years ago.
In a statement at the time via his attorneys, Pfleger denied those allegations, calling them “false” and saying he “never touched this man in any sexual or inappropriate way at any time.”
His lawyers said the accusations were “wholly inconsistent with Father Pfleger’s character and the recollections of the thousands of young men and women who have known Father Pfleger for decades, including the accusers’ friends during the years that these alleged incidents purportedly occurred.”
The congregation of St. Sabina, a close-knit community that’s been a social activism hub for 40 years under Pfleger, stood by their pastor, flooding the archdiocese’s phone lines, staging rallies, threatening to withhold $100,000 in monthly dues and sending 1,300 letters.
Pfleger has been the pastor of Saint Sabina Church in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood since 1981, most widely known for his activism against violence in the city.
“This past year has been a time of great trial for us all,” Cupich wrote, “and our church, our city and society are in need of your witness to Jesus’ love. Please know you will have my support and prayers as you continue to be a light in the community.”